Adam Torks

Top 10 Best Private Encrypted Messengers Designed For Security Nuts

Being concerned with the security of online communication and information exchange is absolutely OK. It is a reflection of the fact that you
are aware of global surveillance happening every second of our presence online. Our online activities are monitored, intercepted, collected, and stored. And now imagine that what you know is only the small fraction of what is really happening with our information.
Information is a weapon, and this info-gun can be turned against us.
What solutions did people find?
VPN, Tor browser, and incognito windows are good, but not enough, not
completely. They won’t make you completely anonymous on the Web. So
people either need to find a complex solution or to protect different aspects in isolation. Thus, online communication can be protected with the help of encrypted messengers.
Such private messengers encrypt all the content and attachments (sometimes) in order no one, except you and your interlocutor, can read it. Therefore, you can chat without worrying about security.
There are 10 most popular private messengers which are considered the best in terms of safety and anonymity.
What are the 10 encrypted messengers which promise risk-free communication?

Utopia

Overview:
Utopia is a newly delivered peer-to-peer ecosystem, which is gained popularity thanks to its main distinction - an integrated approach to safe online activity management. In addition to the encrypted messenger, it affords an email provider, anonymous browser, e-wallet with its own cryptocurrency Crypton which is not prone to market volatility, own DNS and API, etc.
As for the messenger itself, it fits the traditional image of an instant messenger - you can:
  • Send text and voice(!) messages. Encryption used - Curve25519 / AES-256;
  • Create group chat rooms and publicly- available channels, which can be further plotted on the uMap (anonymous map which doesn’t collect any data in comparison to other famous mapping services);
  • Attach multimedia files in an unlimited amount and size; the drag-and-drop function simplifies the process;
  • Send emoji and stickers - they are unique here.
Key features:
  • Decentralised peer-to-peer architecture;
  • Advanced encryption;
  • Anonymous registration;
  • One-stop solution.

Signal

Overview:
It is the client application designed for instant texting and VoIP telephony, which allows sending encrypted text, voice, and video messages and attach files. Simple interface and availability are the main reasons why it’s so popular, especially among American people. Although, the app requires a phone number to create an acc.
Key features:
  • Advanced encryption: Curve25519, AES-256 and HMAC-SHA256;
  • Self-destructing messages feature;
  • The app is open-source (anyone can check their reliability).

Wire

Overview:
It claims to be the most secure collaboration platform. It allows sending encrypted text, voice and video-messages, making calls, and sharing files in a entirely safe way. E2EE is applied to provide that. It’s open-source, and that means that it’s completely transparent, and its code can be audited. It positions itself as a platform for organizations primarily.
It’s paid - Pro plan is for 4 Euro/month, Enterprise is for 8 Euro/month. There is another plan - Red, which is created for crisis collaborations. Its
price is specified in Sales.
Key features:
  • It’s open-source;
  • E2EE (Curve25519,ChaCha20, HMAC-SHA256);
  • Business focus.

Telegram

Overview:
It’s been a big hit since 2013. It really can be called instant messenger as it really fast and user-friendly. You can do all the usual actions- send text, voice, and video messages, create channels and chats, send and create amazing stickers (animated ones), and gifs. It’s cloud-based, so you can access your acc from any device.
Key features:
  • Servers are distributed (however, it’s not decentralized);
  • Open API and protocol;
  • RSA 2048, AES 256, SHA-256 encryption;
  • Secret chat function (encryption by default).

Dust

Overview:
It’s said that Dust is a kit of tools for confidential comm, web search, and identity theft protection. It uses E2EE and offers the function of self-destructive messaging ( are deleted right after reading). Moreover, the messages are available only for 24 hours and then are deleted forever. Here, you can send any type of content, create group chats and attach files, just like in any other IM. The messenger provides screenshot blocks, so no one can save messages even if he/she wants to.
Key features:
  • Messages are deleted in 24 hours;
  • E2EE applied;
  • Screenshot block;
  • Self-destructing messages.

Threema

Overview:
The messenger is considered one of the most secure due to E2EE of all
messages and calls (open-source NaCI library). It allows sending messages and attach files of any type, create polls, and so on. It’s worth mentioning that it’s Swiss and we know how people in Switzerland value quality. There are several derivations of the messenger: Web (for using from a browser), Calls (just for convenient voice calls), Work (for organizations), Broadcast (for running own channels), Gateway(sending messages from your server), Education (for educational institutions).
Key feature:
  • No phone number required to sign up;
  • High-level encryption (Curve25519 256, XSalsa20 256, Poly1305-AES 128).

Tox chat

Overview:
It’s a free software for secure instant messaging, voice and video calls, for screen sharing, file sharing, chatting in groups. It claims that it encrypts all data using open-source libraries. Moreover, it’s distributed, so there are no central servers. Thus, E2EE, in conjunction with such architecture, make this messenger extremely secure.
By the way, to add a person to a contact, you need to share with him your ID (which is very long).
Key features:
  • Curve25519, xsalsa20 and poly1305 for MACs cryptography;
  • Onion routing is employed to store and locate the messenger’s IDs.

Briar

Overview:
Briar is an encrypted messenger that significantly stands out from the crowd of other private messengers. This project is for everyone who cares about confidentiality - activists, politicians, journalists, and others. It can transfer data via wifi, the Internet, and Bluetooth or via Tor. It is based on peer-to-peer technology and uses E2EE.
Key features:
  • Open-source;
  • No Internet required;
  • P2P encrypted messaging.

Jabber

Overview:
It’s one of the oldest instant messengers people know; it’s based on XMPP (an open standard for messengers). Some time ago, there was an issue of account registration due to migration of a database to a new machine. Now, to log in, you should use an instant messenger client like Adium, Jitsi, ChatSecure, Psi, Conversations, Gajim, or Swift (and some others.)

Kakao Talk

Overview:
It’s a free mobile app which is originated from Korea (motherland of Samsung.) It enables all-type messaging. It offers a lock mode, which prevents strangers from viewing your messages. It also uses E2EE to secure communication but only for secret chats (just like Telegram).
In general, this messenger is not just for secure chatting but for entertaining as well - there are a voice and video filters and other quite funny features and bright interface.
Key features:
  • E2EE for secret chats;
  • Lock mode.
Extra selection
There are some good messengers that do not enter the top 10. However, they still have the right to exists and to be used.
So if you didn’t like all the mentioned above apps, feel free to consider the next three alternatives.

Riot

Overview:

It’s an open-source x-plat messenger via which you can exchange multimedia and text messages, organize group chats, make any type of calls and add widgets and bots. To secure messaging, E2EE is used as well. It allows creating 3 types of accs: standard (on Matrix), premium one (on Modular) and Advanced (on customized servers)
Key features:
  • Open-source;
  • Curve25519, AES-256, HMAC-SHA256 encryption.
Why it’s not in top 10:
  • Encryption is not by default
  • Attachments are not encrypted

Viber

Overview:
It’s a pleasant messenger for secure enough communication. Audio and video calls and messages, group chats, tons of stickers. All is protected by E2EE by default. All the messages are deleted from servers after the receiver reads them.
Key features:
  • Secret Chats;
  • Self-destructing messages;
  • E2EE by default.
Why it’s not in top 10:
  • Not open-source (can’t be checked on reliability.)

Wickr

Overview:
This messenger contains the key solutions of secure communications:
terminal encryption, self-destruction of sent text, photo, video, and voice messages. Also, the app independently removes compromising information, for example, geotags in photos.
Additionally, the messenger has user verification by sending a short video. And Wickr developers are trying to increase security by paying $ 100,000
for the vulnerabilities found.
Key features:
  • Anonymous registration;
  • E2EE.
Why it’s not in top 10:
  • Not open-source.
The bottom line
As you see, there are quite a lot of solutions that will help you to preserve your privacy and anonymity while communicating online for the time being. Your choice should be based on the purposes you pursue primarily. Good luck with choosing the best.

Tags

More by Adam Torks

Topics of interest